You are casually sitting on your couch while watching the latest episode of your favourite show when you suddenly feel your heartbeat racing. You could hardly breathe. You thought you had a heart attack, yet the feeling went away after a couple of minutes. Was it a heart attack, or were you experiencing an anxiety attack? First, we need to know what anxiety is and what causes it.
What is Anxiety?
Simply put, anxiety refers to the feelings of fear, worry, and uneasiness that are often caused by stressful thoughts or situations. Anxiety problems can range from mild to severe.
There are two common types of anxiety disorders.
- The first type of anxiety disorder is called Panic Disorder, which is characterized by panic attacks.
- The second type of anxiety disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, is when people worry about many different things.
Common Causes of Anxiety
About 33.7% of people experience one or two anxiety attacks in their lifetime.
Anxiety attacks are sometimes caused by panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or social phobia. Anxiety attacks can be induced by an external stimulus such as a loud noise or a traumatic event.
Some of the common causes of anxiety attacks are:
This can be caused by major life changes like getting married, starting college, and financial difficulties.
2) Family history
If someone has parents or siblings who have had it before them, there is a higher chance of developing it themselves.
3) Medical Conditions
Sometimes, it is related to an illness that the person has which needs to be addressed medically to reduce the severity and frequency of the attack.
Many things can cause anxiety, and the above mentioned are just the most common ones. It can also be caused by environmental factors, thoughts, perfectionism, negative past experiences, genetics and other biological factors.
The most common types of anxiety are panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder. GAD typically does not have any specific cause, but PTSD can be caused by witnessing a traumatic event or having a history of trauma in the person's life.
There are a couple of physical symptoms that you can watch out for.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
It is not uncommon for people to experience heart palpitations when they are experiencing Anxiety. This is because of the fight or flight response that happens in our bodies when we are in this state. All of our energy goes to either running away or fighting an attacker, which is why it can make us feel like we are about to have a heart attack.
Dizziness is a common symptom of Anxiety. Its occurrence can be attributed to the fact that Anxiety leads to changes in blood flow in the brain. During an anxiety attack, this change in blood flow in the brain can trigger sensations of vertigo or light-headedness in some people.
The process of sweating helps maintain homeostasis in the body by dissipating heat. It'sIt's also possible that people sweat when they are feeling anxious because of the release of adrenaline that occurs in situations where our fight-or-flight response kicks in.
Nausea is one of the most common feelings during an anxiety attack. People experience nausea because of a change in their body's balance which can be triggered by a number of factors.
Nausea also has a strong psychological effect on people as panic and fear often accompanies it. This may cause people to feel more anxious or stressed, which will then lead to more nausea.
It is not uncommon for people to experience panic during an anxiety attack. The feeling of "impending doom" that comes with panic can cause them to feel like they are losing control of themselves.
It can also happen spontaneously, not just when there's an anxiety attack. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear and discomfort that usually last about 10 minutes but can be much shorter or longer than this time frame, depending on the person.
People often experience rapid breathing during an anxiety attack because their breathing becomes faster when they become frightened or uneasy about something.
Heart attack and anxiety attacks may have the same set of symptoms, but the main difference is, these symptoms won't go away with a heart attack. If you experience any of these symptoms that only last for a couple of minutes, you might be experiencing an anxiety attack.
10 Ways To Manage Your Feelings Of Anxiety
Anxiety is a state of worry, fear and uneasiness. Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, such as the inability to concentrate on what you are doing. There are ways to control your anxiety so that it does not control you. Here are ten ways to manage it:
Make sure you have enough sleep
There are indeed many reasons why people are more anxious now, but lack of sleep is one of the most common causes. When you are anxious, your cortisol levels rise. This hormone can make you feel more tired, less energized and more stressed. Getting at least seven hours of sleep per night can help lower cortisol levels and reduce anxiety symptoms.
Exercise helps relieve symptoms of anxiety by reducing stress, releasing positive hormones and getting the blood pumping. It also encourages people to confront their fears and learn how to cope with potentially stressful situations in a healthy way. Here are some exercises that you might want to try.
Spend time outdoors
The natural environment has a profound impact on people's emotional and physical health. People often go outside to get their minds off things or just take in the fresh air, exercise, and enjoy nature.
Spending time outdoors also helps people improve their mood as it has been found that green spaces such as parks can reduce feelings of anger, sadness, and depression as well as feeling anxious or nervous.
Keep your worries in perspective
This is not about denying your worries or pretending that all is well. It's about finding the right balance between worrying about things you can control and that which you have no control over. Identifying these should help you focus on things that matter in the present.
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference."- The serenity prayer
Avoid caffeine before bedtime
Caffeine increases heart rate, which may make an individual feel anxious instead of calming them down. Avoiding a caffeinated drink a few hours before going to bed will reduce or eliminate any anxiety symptoms. Have calming drinks instead that help you sleep.
Be mindful of your thoughts
There are many ways to manage anxiety disorders. However, one of the most effective ways to do so is through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT teaches patients to become aware of their thoughts and how they affect their feelings which helps them know when they need to seek help for an anxiety episode or event that's causing them stress or worry.
Meditation has been found to be an extremely effective way of managing Anxiety, but it can also offer benefits for other mental and physical ailments.
Some of the most remarkable benefits that come with meditation are relief from stress, prevention of anxiety attacks, improved sleep quality, improved focus and attention span, increased creativity, reduced blood pressure and more!
Eat healthy foods
Healthy eating is not only good for your physical health, but also your mental health too. Eating healthy will help reduce anxiety levels and improve moods!
Maintaining a healthy digestive system is crucial for your general health. It has been proved that the gut and brain are closely related, and that the gut can influence mood, behavior, and even cognition.
Talk to someone about it
There is a lot of stigmas surrounding mental health and those who suffer from it. It is important to talk about it and not feel alone in this struggle.
The human body is designed to follow natural rhythms. Breathing is one of these natural rhythms that can be key to managing Anxiety.
Breathing exercises are often overlooked in managing anxiety disorders because they are not considered "medical" treatments. But there are many ways breathing helps us manage stress and Anxiety without medication. Being mindful of your breathing can help you feel relaxed.
We should not be ashamed of what we are going through. The world is not a perfect place, and it doesn't have to be. What's important is that we know how to use what we have in front of us to get by.
To live a happy life, we need to stop being so hard on ourselves and instead focus on trying our best and accepting that sometimes, things don't go the way we want them to. You may not be experiencing this, but someone you know might be. Please, reach out.